Valderice is a small city at the base of Monte San Giuliano (on top of which Erice is located) and 8 km from Trapani (hooking out into the sea like a sickle), and is a place that is so-called "Between Heaven and the Sea". There is an abundance of natural beauty surrounding the city, but it's not much to look at by itself really. It does have some rustic appeal actually, but that's me looking back nearly 20 years (and subsequent passages through there over the years) with the eyes of a more seasoned traveler. During this first time I was there I think I may have thought, 'what a dump' and commented so to my friend Gang who accompanyed me on this trip. He was great fun as a traveling companion too and we are still great friends to this day.
View of Erice from Valderice
I have learned to appreciate some rustic Italian charm since those days back in 1995. Anyway, my friend Gang and I were both Ph.D. students and were in Italy to attend the School of Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy directed by our common advisor & mentor, Prof. Di Bartolo, an extraordinary man who we have been fortunate to know and to have been his students. He has been a director of this particular school since the early 1970's and we were there to give our first public presentations in the form of a short seminar. We had done poster presentations before, but this was something a bit more advanced in public presentation ways.
Anyway, having taken a flight from Boston to London and then a flight from London to Rome, and then an overnight train from Rome to Palermo, then a train from Palermo to Trapani, then a bus from Trapani up the mountain to Erice, we finally arrived (or so we thought).
Valderice people I
What can I say, we were poor graduate students on limited funds to attend this shool and it was an adventure for sure, especially for me in that this was my first introduction to international travel. I learned a great deal from this experience in how to travel better in future ways. Nevertheless, despite this quite exhausting journey, we actually arrived early and quite unexpected in Erice. We had to wait a while until someone could find Prof. Di Bartolo, and apparently he was staying at a hotel down the mountain in, you guessed it, Valderice
! A driver was arranged to take us where he was staying and we would have a lunch there.
Prof. Di Bartolo (who we usually just call Rino) told us during lunch that the accomodations for the school were in difficulty do to a mix-up and overlap with another school going on there.
Valderice people II
Scientific schools occur in Erice (La Citta del Scienza) run all year round and usually progress most seamlessly back-to-back, but not this time - wouldn't you know it, and my first time too. Long story short and we would be staying in, you guessed it, Valderice! This would be a temporary thing of a day or two into the school, but since we had arrived early it would be several days here for me and my friend Gang. I have written a hotel review of where we stayed (see below in this journal entry) with a humorous story of this experience, so refer to that and no need for me to retell it here. Suffice it say that Valderice was a fairly boring place with not much to do. After walking the streets a bit and discovering not much going on, we wandered a bit farther on foot and found an old smashed up TV in a gultch and had some scientific investigation of that.
Sculpture in Valderice
Beyond this we mostly stayed in the hotel and I drank many Birra Grande's of Peroni. We also did have bus service up to Erice to walk around and have some time to unwind and relax before the school began, but didn't discover this until after a couple days. We took advantage of that and by the time other equally confused participants began to arrive, we were experts at navigating the place and seemed like old pros at the Erice school. Gang and I took some pleasure in this for our hardship, but offered our advice generously.
Valderice does have a Wikipedia entry. The Italian one offers much more than the English one, but I give links for both:( English Version & Italian Version ).
Streets of Valderice
The Italian version can be translated in google if you are interested and cannot read Italian. Maybe the English version will catch up eventually...
I have some photos to share from 1995, but also add some from trips in other years to provide a better perspective. I will label them accordingly. They are a rather non-uniform collection, but give some sense of the place. As a personal reflection, this wasn't exactly the best introduction to international travel for me: The long convoluted trip to get there, the unexpected temporary accomodations set-up and the idle time on our hands in the not so interesting Valderice, all led to a feeling that this travel thing was not worth the trouble! It got better from here though and I learned something in the process too that would make my future adventures much more enjoyable. Sometimes life throws you a curve that's no fault of our own, but often we make life more difficult than it has to be.
Monte Cofano (a famous mountain in many views of Erice & Valderice)
That was probably the great transforming 'epiphany', if I would call it that, on my experience in getting to and staying in Valderice - A place that will live in Infamy as my first international travel destination, but one I can look back on now and appreciate the many other travels I have had that went as smooth as silk. It's all in perspective, you see, and time makes you a student of your own history. How's that for a wise note to end this entry on?
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." ~ George Santayana (1863 - 1952)
Valderice Hotels & Accommodations review
Convenient Hotel in Valderice Sicily
This hotel is located in the vicinity of Erice and Trapani, in a place called Valderice (valley of Erice) on the west coast of Sicily. It is a decent … read entire review